By Karin Sora
Supply teacher and
I have taught for 7 years in schools across Sweden, Norway, and the UK and I experienced first-hand the day-to-day challenges of supply teaching: unfair payment, disrespectful treatment by supply agencies, lack of advance notice to prepare for the class or even to get there on time. A stressful and poorly paid profession, to sum it up.
But I always thought there must be a way for teachers like me to get better treatment and fairer pay. After all, we are at the core of the school system and at both ends of the money chain. It’s just that I couldn’t see how agencies could be part of the solution and work to advance the interests of both schools and teachers. I thought they provided an essential service, but expecting them to aim for lesser profits and better treatment of teachers was simply not realistic.
It wasn’t until my husband Radu and I took a few weeks break that we realised we could do something about it. Radu has been working for software companies for more than 12 years. While completing his PhD at the University of Warwick, he took an interest in how technology can be used to tackle inequality.
We said to ourselves: ”Wait, in other industries it IS possible to automate matching—think Uber! And it IS possible to predict personal preferences—there’s Netflix and Spotify!”. We had the programming power and the insider’s perspective on supply teaching, so we could literally build a well-designed, automated system that would solve the long-time suffering of supply teachers. We could actually help schools treat and pay them better, so they would value their profession more, and think less of doing something else.
I immediately knew it would mean total commitment and loads of work, from both Radu and I. We had to face initial mistrust, inertia, entrenched interests, and others having previously failed at solving the same problem. Our idea meant changing work relationships across an entire system. We would have to persuade the key stakeholders, and it would all have to start with a great service, that we would have to build from scratch. ”Bring it on,” we said.
That’s how Teacherise, the teacher-made mobile app, came to be. First and foremost, it eliminates the middleman and helps pay supply teachers fairly, on the same scale as regular teachers. Secondly, its algorithms do a much better job of matching schools and teachers based on skills, previous experience and location, so they increase job satisfaction, decrease commuting time, and save the environment. Much like Netflix or Spotify predict the movies or music you’ll like based on your previous choices and ratings, Teacherise predicts the compatibility between assignments and teachers.
It decreases their morning stress, as it conveniently provides all the assignment details, including commuting time. Having all the information upfront, teachers can easily decide if they want to take on an assignment. If they reject it, the algorithm won’t judge them, but instead will try to offer alternatives.
It’s a win-win-win. Psychologically and financially, supply assignments will become more attractive to educators like me and my colleagues, so we will have more incentive to persevere and perform. In turn, schools will be happy to see more motivated and engaged teachers take on the assignments without any budget increase. Lastly and most importantly, students will get a better education on a sustained basis. Therefore, I believe our service is a functional solution to a dysfunctional system, to the benefit of everyone involved (teachers, schools, and students). So come check it out and spread the word!
as supply teacher or school, to get or post assignments directly
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